FCC repeals the Fairness Doctrine, changes news media forever

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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Republicans, with the support of President Reagan, push the Federal Communications Commission to repeal the Fairness Doctrine, dismantling a 1949 rule that forced broadcast media to present issues in a fair and balanced manner. Without the Fairness Doctrine, the door opens for the emerging 24-hour news cycle to be overtaken with propaganda, smear campaigns, and formulated lies.

The doctrine required broadcasters to devote some network time to discussing controversial matters of public interest and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Before now, today’s networks like Newsmax, Fox News, and One America News would never have gotten away with only having guests who parrot the hosts’ talking points.

Republicans successfully argued that the Fairness Doctrine was an attack on journalistic freedom, and both Reagan and Bush thwarted efforts by Congress to keep the doctrine intact. This repeal happened as 24-hour cable news arrived, and foreign behemoths, like Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, landed in the United States.

Sarah Kendzior, Hiding In Plain Sight

Reagan had a deal with Murdoch in the ’80s. If Reagan helped Murdoch’s businesses, Murdoch would use his papers to support Reagan and attack his opponents. Murdoch launched Fox just last year.

External Sources

Fairness Doctrine, Archived

Sarah Kendzior, Hiding In Plain Sight, p.81

Photo: Nina Hill

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